Ego-driven road culture irks

Last updated 05:00 01/12/2012

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Coming here from the UK, I have noticed some astonishing differences in behaviour when it comes to vehicles, and in that sense I mean bicycles and motor vehicles.

That affable Kiwi you saw this morning is capable of morphing into an egocentric maniac - just add wheels! Let me explain.

You're in a supermarket car park, about to leave. To do so, you have to reverse out of your parking space, turning your head and trying to see through the limited visibility that you are afforded in this manouevre. Suddenly, you hit the brake pedal. Why? Because your friendly Kiwi mate is in too much of a hurry, and too confident to stop, he just drove past at 20kmh about a foot behind you.

Could he have been cautious, realised that it was hard for you to see much and kindly waited? Of course he did? Did he? No. Would his wife? No way. The old lady with the (wheeled) shopping trolley? Of course not. It is so easy to see that this behaviour creates risk and at the least is discourteous. Even in hard-bitten, unfriendly parts of London people will wait for you to exit a space. Hey, they might even want it themselves!

Later on, it's getting towards darkness, twilight perhaps. How many Kiwis roar out of junctions or cruise the highways in dirty, dull-coloured cars, especially if its raining, with no lighting on display? I swear Kiwis have a gene which tells them that car headlights are only so that they can see where they are going. Well, if they can, then they don't need them on, it's obvious! Yeah, right.

Does anyone ever stop to think it would be safer if others could see them coming through the rain, mist or gathering dark? Clearly not. I observed vehicle after vehicle in near dark yesterday evening saving huge amounts of fuel by keeping their lights switched off. Oh, about 2c a week, I should think, if they are lucky. I wonder how many have had accidents for the sake of the saving?

Lastly, what is it about cyclists here? Are they the true believers, the ones who realise just how dangerous the roads are? Perhaps that is why they are always cycling on the pavement, putting pedestrians at risk, but hey, they're OK, so why not? Oh, and traffic lights? They're just for cars aren't they?

Well, rant over, but strangely my Kiwi friends (yes, I still have some) tend to agree with me, I'd love to hear what drives these behaviours, is it all really down to the "she'll be right, mate" mentality?

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